Jump to content

Fellow composers, do you ever find yourself locking into a style? If so, what is your reaction?


Recommended Posts

So I guess the premise to this inquiry came from my recent works on this soon to be submission

So, as you can see, I haven't even gotten a review let alone a submission, but I find that not only did I like what I did, I feel like I found a sound I can resonate with to the point where I could do it again.

So I started working on a different song from FFVII and a lot of the same sound ideas came to mind and similar approach composition wise. Part of me is like...is this me finding a style/a musical voice? Or is this just me being unoriginal/lacking inspiration? I'm sure whatever else comes out will be its own thing but it would still be atmospheric, combining different orchestral/cinematic aspects together. It's very perplexing to me. Until now I never really locked into a single style in my head. I guess some examples being these three songs

 

 

I think simple and atmospheric with vocals is kind of my thing when I take a closer look at the compositions...hmm.

 

Anyway, what do you guys think of this process? Do you try to run away when you see yourself getting locked into a sound? Do you try and shake it off or do you take it as "your sound?"

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm...That's a good question.

I'm still trying to figure that out for myself. Honestly, I want to feel that I have a style that I'm pressing towards...but it seems to change with what I learn/like at the time. I try to stick to gaming roots with electronic music and 80's synth, but I'm coming from a classical music background on voice.

Most recently the sound has taken on a funky feeling...but that's from working with the sound pack I got and adapting to it. Everything beforehand was just making one massive loop like traditional composition, and now I'm learning to work using looped drums/effects in the workflow. Currently the top two are using a blend of the two methods, third is from the single loop workflow I did beforehand only. In making these, I'm actually surprised I could make something with these sounds.

^This one was pitched up a third because I felt it would be more nostalgic for the listener, the version with how my voice is pitched normally can be found here.

But that's all stuff I made in the last week or two. Stuff from even a few months ago has a different feel. I'm going to avoid posting more than 3 Soundcloud links due to how large the inserts are, but my rearrangements and compositions 'Polymer Soul', '16 Bit Drift', 'Digital Space', and/or 'Virus Waltz (Voice)' are a pretty good indication of the changes since August.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so pathologically opposed to being locked into a sound or genre that it's actually counterproductive when I come up with an idea and immediately scrap it because it sounds too similar to a style or feel I did in another song, even if the song itself would be completely different.  I honestly wish I could dial it back somewhat.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Argle said:

I am so pathologically opposed to being locked into a sound or genre that it's actually counterproductive when I come up with an idea and immediately scrap it because it sounds too similar to a style or feel I did in another song, even if the song itself would be completely different.  I honestly wish I could dial it back somewhat.

 

Dude right? I'm at this point like...so what if TWO of my songs may sound similar? But at the same time I want each of my songs to be their own little butterfly ugh. And yet also at the same time, I want to establish a sound that is my own. Why do we do these things to ourselves lol?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, I want every song to feel like what I wanted to do with it initially...but things keep changing between execution and planning. There's going to be overlaps in style, only thing I concern myself with at this point is trying to be better than I was with the last project. That texture is formed by each experience.

The feeling is very relatable, seen it in art friends and myself. But I've killed myself on artwork before for the rough draft to outshine the finished product. Sometimes good enough is all you need. Once something is in the hands of the audience, it takes on a different significance that we have no control over.

The icon I use is a finished work I did, and the rough line art showing progress for it is the thing that makes the rounds with fans. Every few days, there's some kind of notification on it. It annoyed the heck out of me at first, but these days, I'm just glad it makes people happy.

Edited by bloopasan
Grammar
Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess artists of all kinds will have some degree of dissatisfaction with our work, but its good to have some introspection and evaluate how you're doing on style, quality, and such. I've personally found it a little satisfying when two or more of my songs sound similar, as though they belong together in an album. My stance is to embrace the kind of music you instinctively want to create. But it's good to make a conscious effort to try other things as well.

On feeling locked in a style, my friend, Souperion, and I often joke about how much we use violins and other strings in our composition. We tried daring each other to not use any string instruments in songs, but most often I gravitate back to the instruments and styles I've used before.

To draw on baking for an analogy, music is similar to baking a cake: Many chocolate cakes have been made before, but mine will have the frosting, colors, and layers that I like in it. And Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. Lots of peanut butter cups. So keep making cake.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, kinda wanted to jump into this conversation because it seems interesting and I think I can add my own '2 cents' to it.

I just started 'producing' music around early Sept 2020, and I can agree and feel a lot of what all of you are saying, even if I am new to this. I've noticed, between what I've submitted to MnP Compos and a music mix songwriting challenge this past December that, although I do try to branch out and 'conquer' different genres of music, be it New Age (the theme of the songwriting challenge), Synthwave, Hardcore, Techno, Rock--what have you--I always get the same commentary across the board, no matter what other constructive critiques or positives / negatives people perceive of my work:

"You have a good / wonderful / cool / etc concept / understanding of drumwork and percussion and beat, and it sounds LO-FI / HIP-HOP"--which may or may not work with the theme or overall piece of the compo (as it seemed to have not with the song I submitted for the songwriting challenge).

And I have a weird...duality with that and a slight negative complex now, and unsure what to do with it or how to deal with it.

Like, in all honesty, I am proud that at the very least, even if my melody or harmonics is a bit off or dissonant (which I guess comes with the terf of being a newbie, something is going to be off with what you produce until you get the professional ear for it. Maybe any Jo-Shmo wouldn't know, but your peers will know where and how you fucked up, plus or minus their own bias and nuance when it comes to music tastes.) At the very least, I seem to understand beat and rythym enough to not have a complete dumpster fire on my hands. But it's kind of giving me a stigma that everything I do, no matter the genre, is going to have the same lo-fi / hip-hop-style foundation to it.

I mean, is that a thing of growing into one's own style and I guess...trademark stamp of what makes their work, THEIR WORK, or...is that a detrimental fault to the learning process?

It's a real bi-fold quandry.

For example, I've listened to everybody's posted work on here (great stuff BTW), and even if they're described under different genre headings, I CAN hear a fundamental line of style that makes its impression on all your work, be it a string instrument you use a lot, or an orchestral undertone, or even the beat-work.

And then I thought about it further, and juxtaposed that stance with multiple songs I hear across multiple singers / bands. . .

I think we all have our own stamp to our music, that is fomulated over the course of us playing around and learning and even from our individual backgrounds. Like...I think WHY my music keeps coming out with heavy, snazzy beats as such is because I heavily grew up listening to African-American music, because I am Black. Literally since a baby I grew up listening to stuff like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, every Motown-song under the sun, and in later years, stuff like Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Black Eyed Peas, etc. That's not to say I didn't listen to other genres. My Dad and Mom would play stuff like the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Dr Dre, Black Sabbath, and in my teens - early 20s I listened to a lot of different heavy metal and rock n' roll and electronica music, from Disturbed to Staind to The Prodigy to H.I.M. ...It's a conglomerate of all kinds of stuff, inclusive of VGMs and RMs.

But almost a good chunk of all of that has the one foundational aspect: they all do heavy bassline and drumkit. Now pair that with the fact my father used to play and practice drumming in the house on a professional level. He never got into a band or anything, but the man knew his shit and even had different sticks and percussion kits, even if it was a hobby. So it's ingrained into my skull so much that even if I can shift in producing different genres of music, it's all gonna come out with similar bass & drum works.

Now, is that going to be a detriment or problem in the long run? I don't really know. Is it the growth of my own style? Maybe? Hell, I am just as bamboozled as the rest of you on that stance.

But I agree with Thunder and Bloo: I think in the long run, it's about building experience and making the WHOLE of a song as awesome as possible, not necessarily it's individual parts. If you're good at something already and that's your artistic stamp, let it be your artistic stamp. No one can take that away from you. It can only grow and blossom as you conquer different genres and make it your own. I've noticed every professional artist has this bent, whether it's a sample they use over and over across their songs (e.g. Snoop Dogg), or the beat (e.g. Savant), or even how they sing (e.g. Mariah Carey).

P.S.: Sorry if this is a huge post, was in the middle of a thought-flow when I typed this up ROFL.

Edited by The Vodoú Queen
Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, here's the examples of how somehow, even with different genres, my drum & bass are pretty much stylistically similar:

Hardcore / Techno:

Orchestral / Electronic:

ACTUAL Lo-Fi / Hip-Hop:

New Age / Jazz (the one that seems to have been poorly executed):

There's more in my SoundCloud of various stuff I've done so far, but yeah. . . It all seems to carry the same undertones, and everybody keeps describing every song as such. D:

Edited by The Vodoú Queen
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 1/4/2021 at 3:02 PM, Wassup Thunder said:

I guess artists of all kinds will have some degree of dissatisfaction with our work, but its good to have some introspection and evaluate how you're doing on style, quality, and such. I've personally found it a little satisfying when two or more of my songs sound similar, as though they belong together in an album. My stance is to embrace the kind of music you instinctively want to create. But it's good to make a conscious effort to try other things as well.

On feeling locked in a style, my friend, Souperion, and I often joke about how much we use violins and other strings in our composition. We tried daring each other to not use any string instruments in songs, but most often I gravitate back to the instruments and styles I've used before.

To draw on baking for an analogy, music is similar to baking a cake: Many chocolate cakes have been made before, but mine will have the frosting, colors, and layers that I like in it. And Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. Lots of peanut butter cups. So keep making cake.

 

What an amazing analogy at the end. That is so helpful in thinking about how musicians as individuals like to approach their own works. Thank you for your kind and attentive words.

23 hours ago, The Vodoú Queen said:

Hey, kinda wanted to jump into this conversation because it seems interesting and I think I can add my own '2 cents' to it.

I just started 'producing' music around early Sept 2020, and I can agree and feel a lot of what all of you are saying, even if I am new to this. I've noticed, between what I've submitted to MnP Compos and a music mix songwriting challenge this past December that, although I do try to branch out and 'conquer' different genres of music, be it New Age (the theme of the songwriting challenge), Synthwave, Hardcore, Techno, Rock--what have you--I always get the same commentary across the board, no matter what other constructive critiques or positives / negatives people perceive of my work:

"You have a good / wonderful / cool / etc concept / understanding of drumwork and percussion and beat, and it sounds LO-FI / HIP-HOP"--which may or may not work with the theme or overall piece of the compo (as it seemed to have not with the song I submitted for the songwriting challenge).

And I have a weird...duality with that and a slight negative complex now, and unsure what to do with it or how to deal with it.

Like, in all honesty, I am proud that at the very least, even if my melody or harmonics is a bit off or dissonant (which I guess comes with the terf of being a newbie, something is going to be off with what you produce until you get the professional ear for it. Maybe any Jo-Shmo wouldn't know, but your peers will know where and how you fucked up, plus or minus their own bias and nuance when it comes to music tastes.) At the very least, I seem to understand beat and rythym enough to not have a complete dumpster fire on my hands. But it's kind of giving me a stigma that everything I do, no matter the genre, is going to have the same lo-fi / hip-hop-style foundation to it.

I mean, is that a thing of growing into one's own style and I guess...trademark stamp of what makes their work, THEIR WORK, or...is that a detrimental fault to the learning process?

It's a real bi-fold quandry.

For example, I've listened to everybody's posted work on here (great stuff BTW), and even if they're described under different genre headings, I CAN hear a fundamental line of style that makes its impression on all your work, be it a string instrument you use a lot, or an orchestral undertone, or even the beat-work.

And then I thought about it further, and juxtaposed that stance with multiple songs I hear across multiple singers / bands. . .

I think we all have our own stamp to our music, that is fomulated over the course of us playing around and learning and even from our individual backgrounds. Like...I think WHY my music keeps coming out with heavy, snazzy beats as such is because I heavily grew up listening to African-American music, because I am Black. Literally since a baby I grew up listening to stuff like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, every Motown-song under the sun, and in later years, stuff like Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Black Eyed Peas, etc. That's not to say I didn't listen to other genres. My Dad and Mom would play stuff like the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Dr Dre, Black Sabbath, and in my teens - early 20s I listened to a lot of different heavy metal and rock n' roll and electronica music, from Disturbed to Staind to The Prodigy to H.I.M. ...It's a conglomerate of all kinds of stuff, inclusive of VGMs and RMs.

But almost a good chunk of all of that has the one foundational aspect: they all do heavy bassline and drumkit. Now pair that with the fact my father used to play and practice drumming in the house on a professional level. He never got into a band or anything, but the man knew his shit and even had different sticks and percussion kits, even if it was a hobby. So it's ingrained into my skull so much that even if I can shift in producing different genres of music, it's all gonna come out with similar bass & drum works.

Now, is that going to be a detriment or problem in the long run? I don't really know. Is it the growth of my own style? Maybe? Hell, I am just as bamboozled as the rest of you on that stance.

But I agree with Thunder and Bloo: I think in the long run, it's about building experience and making the WHOLE of a song as awesome as possible, not necessarily it's individual parts. If you're good at something already and that's your artistic stamp, let it be your artistic stamp. No one can take that away from you. It can only grow and blossom as you conquer different genres and make it your own. I've noticed every professional artist has this bent, whether it's a sample they use over and over across their songs (e.g. Snoop Dogg), or the beat (e.g. Savant), or even how they sing (e.g. Mariah Carey).

P.S.: Sorry if this is a huge post, was in the middle of a thought-flow when I typed this up ROFL.

 

Thank you for sharing your experiences! It really does have this dual feeling when you have someone comment on what they like about what you're doing or what feel it has. As a classically trained musician (singer) I feel as though I need to like, be able to compose in proper orchestral settings at least sometimes and be able to succeed at it. Especially if I cite John Williams as one of my key inspirations. But on the flip side, the other three musicians I see explicitly in my music are Yoko Kanno, Nobuo Uematsu, and Eric Whitacre. I think the outcome so far is that I lean more towards a atmospheric sound a lot of the times.

Like you, I want to be able to challenge myself and write other things. Not just as a challenge, but because I like all sorts of music. Michael Jackson is my favorite artist and I have musical roots as a listener in hip hop, R&B, and gospel as well. I also really enjoy prog rock and electropop. I want to make music that sounds like all that too! And yet, I haven't been successful so far. Moreover, it's not the music that tends to pour out of me to the point where I hit the keys and fire up pro tools.

Maybe some of the problems I and others have is we don't know how or are unsure of ourselves when trying to  Branch out. I don't know how to make beats...but I can make 30 bars of classical ish sounding music. I think it's why I get VSTs I rarely use. Hoping I'll one day just learn as I fiddle with them. I never made music with sound effects either but I learned/am learning. I guess the journey continues on!

Edit: I just want to add that in thinking on it more, there may be a big difference between our musical influences as opposed to what one of the guys from spitfire coined as our musical heritage. Maybe...think of it as what or whose music is transparent in and actively affects our pieces being our influences. This is opposed to our inspirations and surroundings that we consumed and used to direct our paths toward music being our heritage. It more passively affects what we make and why. Something to think about.

Edited by HarlemHeat360
Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, HarlemHeat360 said:

Edit: I just want to add that in thinking on it more, there may be a big difference between our musical influences as opposed to what one of the guys from spitfire coined as our musical heritage. Maybe...think of it as what or whose music is transparent in and actively affects our pieces being our influences. This is opposed to our inspirations and surroundings that we consumed and used to direct our paths toward music being our heritage. It more passively affects what we make and why. Something to think about.

I think a lot of truth rings in that. Who we are, what we are, and how we grew up will affect us with everything we do, not just songwriting. I know it affects the way I write fiction and draw, for example. And Thunder's analogy is real good as well. I think, indeed, we just have to keep making cakes. To add to that metaphor, basically, when you start out producing music (especially I'd figure the first year or two), it's gonna be like baking a cake at 10 years old. It's gonna be messy. It's gonna look like absolute shit. Hell, it might not even be edible!--however, as you do it, you'll start to figure out things in your head. Being able to measure the condensed milk, butter and eggs without necessarily needing a measuring cup. Getting the timing right for it baking in the oven perhaps without a timer going. Instinct will take over. Innovation with throwing different chocolates or fruits or nuts into the mixture, or in making different kinds of cake, be it a gingerbread cake or a black forest gateau. You just get better as it goes along, and you find your 'niche' in the kind of cake you like. :)

43 minutes ago, HarlemHeat360 said:

Like you, I want to be able to challenge myself and write other things. Not just as a challenge, but because I like all sorts of music. Michael Jackson is my favorite artist and I have musical roots as a listener in hip hop, R&B, and gospel as well. I also really enjoy prog rock and electropop. I want to make music that sounds like all that too! And yet, I haven't been successful so far. Moreover, it's not the music that tends to pour out of me to the point where I hit the keys and fire up pro tools.

Maybe some of the problems I and others have is we don't know how or are unsure of ourselves when trying to  Branch out. I don't know how to make beats...but I can make 30 bars of classical ish sounding music. I think it's why I get VSTs I rarely use. Hoping I'll one day just learn as I fiddle with them. I never made music with sound effects either but I learned/am learning. I guess the journey continues on!

Ya know, it's actually nice to see someone else grow up with the same sort of influences around here as well, atop of classical-trained singing. I wish I took up chorus as well in school (as I can sing but am not professionally trained, in the same instance I can play keyboard but I taught myself for the most part.) But yeah, having that very Black American background of gospel, rap, hip-hop and R&B under ones belt is extremely distinctive. I'd guess that's why when people pick up on certain songs, it's just there, and you can't really hide that. But as a caveat to what you're saying, there's absolutely nothing wrong with meshing genres together. You mention Nobuo Uematsu. He does it all the time (FFVII & VIII are prime examples of the mesh of rock n' roll, heavy metal and orchestra). Groups like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with their Christmas / winter albums do it. The bands Apocalyptica, Florence & the Machine and 2Cellos do it. It can very well be a niche you can fill, and as far as I know, very few people have filled it. :D Like, I can imagine myself being so spontaneously crazy as to make a full album that's very Black gospel-choir orientated, but with heavy industrial techno / psytrance behind it. That's just how split my personality is.

I guess it's something to think about, and maybe roll with the punches on. :3 Take your strengths (and what some may deem weaknesses), and show 'em who's boss. I said something similar to my friend @HoboKa in a PM, and it's an adage I try to now place on myself when faced with heavy scrutiny and criticism. And TBF, the biggest critic and scrutinizer is myself. :/ I think a lot of us are, by measure of this forum topic and replies alone.

Edited by The Vodoú Queen
Link to post
Share on other sites

If a pass-along can toss in his two cents:

A lot of good things have already been said on one's style. I reckon one can have their style endure across a wide range of musical genres. Looking back on the stuff I've worked over the past couple years, I've dabbled in a lot of approaches. Pure orchestral, orchestral with synth accompaniment, metal/rockin' stuff, attempts at symphonic metal, electronic music, even poked at some stuff with eastern instruments. If you find yourself in a rut with instrumentation, I'd recommend trying new ways to use what you got, or branch out (I'm an Eastwest user, the stuff is expensive if you don't catch it on sale, but I'd recommend the Symphonic Orchestra, Ministry of Rock 2, Silk, and Ra.) 

On 1/3/2021 at 10:02 PM, Wassup Thunder said:

On feeling locked in a style, my friend, Souperion, and I often joke about how much we use violins and other strings in our composition

As my bud pointed out, I find myself gravitating towards sounds I like: violins, violas, cellos, double basses, etc. Heck, I made a song for the OHC using just those, a piano, an erhu, and a little pad. Because it's stuff I enjoy listening to and (sorta) know how to use. Sometimes it's nice to fall back to familiar territory. My general principle is this: make music you would wanna listen to. Enjoy your musical roots!

On 1/5/2021 at 5:05 AM, HarlemHeat360 said:

Maybe some of the problems I and others have is we don't know how or are unsure of ourselves when trying to  Branch out. I don't know how to make beats...

But sometimes it's good to try things we aren't familiar with. For over two years, I've done co-op projects with Wassup Thunder. He enjoys doing the percussion, so I often let him have at it. But a while back, we wanted to both try our own takes on Ridley's theme (Super Metroid). I took the opportunity to force myself to take a percussion-heavy approach. It was rough, and I wasn't confident, but I think that every piece you work on teaches you something. Give it a shot! Start a project to focus on some beats, study the kind of music you like with beats, and make-a-some beats! You'll love it! Probably.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...